Race for coronavirus vaccine draws billions of dollars worldwide, with focus on speed

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In the race to develop a vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic, governments, charities and Big Pharma firms are sinking billions of dollars into bets with extraordinarily low odds of success.

They’re fast-tracking the testing and regulatory review of vaccines with no guarantee they will prove effective. They’re building and re-tooling plants for vaccines with slim chances of being approved. They’re placing orders for vaccines that, in the end, are unlikely to be produced.

It’s the new pandemic paradigm, focused on speed and fraught with risks.

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“The crisis in the world is so big that each of us will have to take maximum risk now to put this disease to a stop,” said Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson , which has partnered with the U.S. government on a $1 billion investment to speed development and production of its still-unproven vaccine.

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“If it fails,” Stoffels told Reuters, “it will be bad.”

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